Friday, January 12, 2007

Hedging Net Neutrality

Just a couple of thoughts on a busy Friday to illustrate that it may be overly simplistic to assume that Net Neutrality is a zero-sum game, as it is often framed.

Last night I fired up the Venice Project client for the first time in a few days, and was prompted to download the new build (which, it turns out, appears to launch without displaying the "lobbycard" style credits which I covered here). Anyway, after the preview piece runs (which I presume gives the client time to contact other nodes and cache some of the most popular content in anticipation of viewer demand?), the sponsorship bumper came up to reveal - wait for it - "brought to you by T-Mobile."

I nearly fell off my seat, as, I assume, did any T-Com manager who might have seen the same. This followed the discovery, thanks to a comment by one of the Venice Project engineers in an online forum (which I refrain from linking to in respect for the contributor's wishes), that Venice's main transit provider is none other than BT Group. (Probably little comfort in this knowledge for the team launching BT Vision.) This confirms some recent traffic analysis done by a mega-uber value reader, who observed that he was connected to several nodes identified as "Infonet Belgium" (BT owns Infonet).

So, in the haze of a Friday mid-morning, I'm thinking that the most draconian incarnation of Net non-neutrality only works if all the pieces of the telco are pulling together - which has never been the case, even in the companies which attract the most scorn. My gut feeling is that Venice and similar applications actually increase the organizational polarization exponentially, possibly to the point of irreconcilable differences, which usually culminates in divorce.

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